When “Going Viral” Can Actually Heal

This post is a bit different from my normal PR-related content, but it’s something that has really weighed heavy on my mind and I feel it’s important to share.

Jonah Mowry

Yesterday, along with most of the YouTube world, I was turned onto a video called “Whats goin on” originally posted in August by 14-year-old Jonas Mowry. The video shows the eighth grader presenting a series of flash cards to the camera revealing his ongoing struggles with bullying, self-mutilation and contemplating suicide. Throughout the video,  Mowry tearfully reveals he has been a victim to bullying since the first grade for his sexual preference, and has been termed “gay,” “fag,” and “homo” by his tormenters.

Despite the heart-wrenching admissions, by the end of the video the very emotional Mowry proclaims to his bullies:

Though the video was posted nearly three months ago, it only went viral these past couple of days, and has received over three million views on YouTube. Response was overwhelming, with thousands of YouTube-ers posting response videos lending support to Mowry.

In addition, celebrities like Lady Gaga, Paula Abdul and Ricky Martin have also personally reached out to Mowry to express their condolences and offer support.

In a follow up attempt, Mowry posted another video yesterday to thank his supporters and assure everyone he is doing okay. He has received some criticism after posting the video because of his chipper, sarcastic mood, and some have even accused him of faking the original video for attention. Hackers have also allegedly taken over the “We Support Jonah Mowry” Facebook page and littered it with graphic, inappropriate photos. On his Twitter page, Jonah urges his supporters to stay away from and report the page and responded to those accusing him of lying:

Cyberbullying (and bullying in general) is something that really gets under my skin. As much as I love the Internet, I also hate the fact that its anonymity seems to give people very hateful powers. Why shove someone into a locker when you can just belittle them repetitively with a click of a button behind your computer monitor?

Still, I have to commend Mowry for taking a stand and posting the video, because it’s really helped restore my faith in the World Wide Web by showing the positive effects of going viral. Sure, there will always be people there to bring you down, but his video also provided an avenue for others to share their own stories, express empathy, and give love. If you or anyone you know is struggling with bullying, remember there is help available. Now I’ll step off my soapbox for the day, but I hope that if you haven’t seen the video you will check it out and join in on the conversation.

2 Responses to “When “Going Viral” Can Actually Heal”
  1. Katy, thanks so much for your advocacy of this important issue. You bring up a great point about the anonymity of the internet, which may sometimes act as a catalyst for social aggression or bullying. The negative comments Jonah is facing now (since his update video) is a key example of this.

    Check out my opinion of his videos at: http://megisme.posterous.com/84177555 and let me know what you think.

    • Meg,

      From your blog I agree with you on the fact that Jonah went about his “response” video in a way that I probably wouldn’t have recommended, but to be fair the kid is only 14! I think people absolutely have the right to question his motives, but it just amazes me how quickly people are willing to accept that he faked the whole thing rather than accepting the possibility that life may have actually improved for him in the past 3 months.

      You linked a lot of great resources on your page. Thank you for your comment!

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